Proof of Concept
Vocational Training


A winning formula of digital innovation, scalable learning & sustainable impact

  • This project focuses on design and development of novel approaches to digitalise vocational learning of Industry 4.0 manufacturing technologies; and will take an existing proof-of-concept developed with Liverpool University’s Virtual Engineering Centre to a scalable commercial grade solution underpinned by a sustainable business model.
  • Valuechain has developed the UK’s Digital Readiness Level assessment tool with several UK Government organisations, to support the UK manufacturing sector to understand current Industry 4.0 status and identify priority gaps. This project will extend on DRL momentum by providing a scalable vocational training solution to address gaps identified via diagnostic.
  • This project is working closely with existing Valuechain industry and academic partners to continually innovate the learning pathway, by co-designing and piloting training solutions, which ensures relevance, engagement with all demographics and intended impact on vocational skills.
  • This project will achieve real change in how learning for work happens, by developing an engaging and scalable platform for peer-to-peer vocational learning whereby industry, academia and students can create and share relevant content and case studies on learning topics visualised through VR.
  • The technology strategy is innovative offering six delivery models and a gamification model to engage users.
  • Learning pathway will build on best practices defined by Valuechain’s leadership team and evolved with strategic partners such as Herriot Watts University, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Atlas Copco (see letters of support: https://bit.ly/2oL8wpr, https://bit.ly/2NVUPin, AMRC LoS ValueChain.pdf).
  • The structured training programmes are based on real-world scenarios aimed at different levels of digital manufacturing competency based on role and previous experience. The platform will evaluate and assess skills and impact of training, record evidence of achievement and provide accreditation.
  • This project is novel and requires Ufi funding to share the risk inherent in game changing approaches to scalable vocational training and is not replacing private funding as without UFI support this project will not proceed.
  • This project is excellent value for money for the UK public – due to Valuechain’s unique business model, less than 50% of total project costs (including cashflows) are requested from UFI.
  • This project will be delivered by a credible team that has vast experience and proven track record of successfully commercialising highly innovative technologies and building sustainable businesses.

Benefitting several stakeholders

Vocational Students
Vocational Students

Engaging target learners from all backgrounds

Apprentices No manufacturing experience or digital manufacturing knowledge, but tech savvy Companies need to accelerate learning and impact of apprentices Virtual training in manufacturing basics & digitalisation basics Apprentices are able to learn faster with more contextual learning and are more likely to secure employment & growth opportunities Attracting more school leavers into Manufacturing; greater impact on productivity sooner - increasing number of new apprenticeships via technical colleges and directly online via apprenticeships websites https://bit.ly/2wiikvk
Graduates (Under graduates & post graduates) No manufacturing experience or digital manufacturing knowledge, but tech savvy Industry 4.0 requires new multi-discipline graduates combining engineering, computing, electronics & data science Virtual training in advanced manufacturing & Industry 4.0 technologies Tech savvy graduate will understand how digital tech can best be applied to transform traditional manufacturing businesses Attracting best STEM graduates into manufacturing; UK can fill Industry 4.0 graduate skills gap via Universities and directly online via graduate & post graduate websites https://bit.ly/2NIH9gh
Manufacturing Leaders Limited digital manufacturing expertise, need to educate workforce to initiate culture change unsure how/where to invest for biggest impact, lack of 4IR investment roadmap Need to know what they don’t know and how to close out gaps (i.e. roadmap) peer-to-peer learning demonstrating ROI benefits Virtual training in advanced Industry 4.0 technologies with examples of roadmaps and ROI from similar case study companies Increased awareness and confidence about 4IR technologies and how to phase implementation and investment Establishing roadmaps and digital investment plans will accelerate 4IR adoption and increase UK productivity Initially via Valuechain client base, then via manufacturing cluster associations and chamber of commerce / trade groups, growing through viral connection strategy http://www.eama.info/
Manufacturing Technicians / Middle Managers Limited digital manufacturing expertise, need to understand transition plan and how to educate workforce & initiate culture change Must balance day-to-day operations whilst introducing new disruptive technologies that they know little about & workforce are resistant to Virtual training in advanced Industry 4.0 technologies with examples of business benefits and change management roadmaps Knowledge & confidence to effectively manage digitalisation transformation and drive culture change Accelerate digital transformation and drive UK productivity Partnerships with high value manufacturing catapults; manufacturing exhibitions; targeting special interest groups on social media https://hvm.catapult.org.uk/
Manufacturing Operators Limited digital manufacturing expertise, resistant to change as in fear of robots and AI impact on manual jobs Need to explain importance of digital technologies & demonsrate new job opportunities arising from digitalisation to reduce resistance Training in breadth of basic Industry 4.0 technologies with examples of business benefits and new roles and opportunities for manufacturing operators e.g. AR maintenance Reduce fear / threat of 4IR and focus on opportunities to upskill by adopting new technologies, improved job quality by reducing monotomous activities Retain employment levels by upskilling and retraining which will improve GVA & productivity Mainly via top down from manufacturing leaders but also via trade union engagement https://bit.ly/2MYnMgA
Vocational College / University Lecturers Limited hands-on experience - academic theory vs real-world, accelerating pace of change leaving lecturers / teachers behind which ultimately impacts quality and relevance of teaching Need to build awareness of latest manufacturing and digital technlogies so that training content remains relevant and engaging Scalable VR platform demonstrating latest digital manufacturing technologies and effectively bridges academic - industry knowledge gap Increased awareness and confidence about 4IR technologies and how best to engage, educate and empower vocational students Increase quality of vocational skills training which will improve workforce competitiveness Build on existing relationships with several universities, generate marketing collateral / case studies, promote impact via social media and contact directly https://bit.ly/2wiikvk https://bit.ly/2NIH9gh
Additionality (not included within UFI funding scope)
School Teachers Very limited experience about manufacturing & technologies evolving rapidly - lack experience on how to best encourage students into manufacturing Secondary school teachers need greater understanding to encourage more pupils to focus on STEM subjects Scalable VR platform demonstrating basic digital manufacturing technologies for learners that have never visited a factory Increased awareness and confidence about 4IR technologies and how best to interest school students into STEM subjects Increased number of high achieving STEM students interested in a career in manufacturing Build on existing relationships with Young Enterprise and career advisory services https://bit.ly/2P3d1oT
Secondary School Pupils Unaware of potential new exciting careers in manufacturing and how advancing technology will be deployed in future Secondary school students need to be engaged and enthused to increase STEM skills Scalable VR platform that utilises gamer technologies and demonstrates basic digital manufacturing technologies Increased awareness and interested in STEM subjects and insights into potential career opportunities in new digital technologies Increased number of high achieving STEM students interested in a career in manufacturing Build on existing relationships with Young Enterprise and career advisory services https://bit.ly/2P3d1oT
Primary School Pupils STEM subject engagement at primary school will increase secondary school STEM adoption Raise basic awareness of manufacturing and how exciting new technologies make an impact Need to engage pupils and generate early interest in manufacturing via gaming technology / mobile devices Increased motivation to study STEM subjects Increased number of high achieving STEM students interested in a career in manufacturing Build on existing relationships with Young Enterprise https://bit.ly/2wrPkAA

An innovative training solution combining gamification with immersiveness


VR environment very engaging with all ages, demographics and roles from students to senior business leaders.

Emphasises productivity improvement opportunities and bridges knowledge gap – i.e. users will know what they don’t know…which is first critical step.

Helps users experience potential Return on Investment in ‘try before you buy’ immersive environment.

Opportunities for Improvement

Users have vastly differing levels of knowledge of digital manufacturing technologies so need basic awareness training through to advanced training scenarios and content relevant for different roles within business.

Current layout only relevant for simple subcontract manufacturing – need for more standard factory layout options and/or configurable to client’s factory layout.

How is the Digital Productivity Factory innovative?

  • Engagement & delivery method from PC, mobile and gaming technologies through to VR powerwall
  • Gamification - solving manufacturing operational challenges based on problem solving, Complex Mathematical Optimisation Scenarios or completing VR tasks faster than colleagues and/or other vocational students
  • Integration of live industry 4.0 apps capturing and visualising real-time data in VR factory.
  • Simulating Augmented Reality use cases and benefits within VR environment
  • Connecting the Digital Productivity Factory community promoting peer-to-peer learning – organisations incentivised to contribute content and share operational challenges to generate credits which can be exchanged for more Pro VR licences and access to apps
  • Connect students with industry for placements and/or new employment opportunities - VR practical interview i.e. simulate operational challenges, find candidates with interest and natural aptitude

Engaging target learners from all backgrounds

The Digital Productivity Factory​ will be delivered
via 6 technology platforms


VR Head Mounted Display (Oculus, HTC VIVE, Oculus Go)

A device worn over your head that fully immerses the user. It has two displays, one for each eye. The displays stream data, images and other information for each eye which we see as 3D. HMDs such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive have displays as described above. Low cost alternatives such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear use a smartphone screen to stream the data, however, the screen is split when plugging in the smartphone in the headset.

The SmartFactoryvr will be delivered via 6 technology platforms with varying levels of scalability and immersiveness

2D/3D Mobile Apps

2D and 3D apps can be created from Unity but are less interactive than the immersive model due to the limitation of interactions with the environment. However, mobile application are simple representations which provides the opportunity to utilise animations and voice recognition. 3D apps are needed for the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear, both can be deployed directly from Unity.

2D/3D Mobile Apps

2D Desktop Screen Apps

VR is a great experience however the web is the best place to reach your audience. Therefore, displaying content using a web API offers both an interactive environment and easy access. The virtual environment is displayed in 2D (not VR) but the user can still interact by using mouse and keyboard. It is recommended to embed animations and walk throughs to help the user navigating through the environment.

2D Desktop Screen Apps

Gaming Consoles

Gaming consoles are based on the HMD technology. Its high-resolution screen and 360 degrees vision create a seamless field of view. The advantages of this technology are the low price, that this hardware is owned by the target users and it enables multiplayer capabilities for future innovations.

Gaming Consoles


WebVR is an open specification that makes it possible to experience VR in your browser. The goal is to make it easier for everyone to get into VR experiences, no matter what device you have. Supported devices: Google Cardboard, Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC VIVE, PlayStation VR and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.



Powerwall is a large VR facility that consists of two ultra-high-resolution (4K) rear projector that create seamless image transitions on a flat screen. The Powerwall is also equipped with a tracking system using infrared light to track reflective points within the room. The users have to wear 3D glasses to have an immersive experience. This is the most collaborative VR technology, enabling large groups to experience the same virtual environment.


Learning Pathway

  • Library of Manufacturing Scenarios - combining training videos, animation and interaction with apps with script / workflow for users of all levels to engage.
  • Gamification Challenges - users compete individually or collaboratively over Internet to show best ranked performers.
  • Online skills and knowledge tests through platform resulting in Digital Productivity Factory graded certificates.
Apprentices GCSEs, A Levels y   y   y   y   y   y   y   y   y   y   y   Accelerated learning & greater breadth of digital manufacturing awareness
Graduates (Under graduates & post graduates) A Levels, Degree y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Breadth & depth of specific 4IR technologies
Manufacutring Operators GCSEs, HNC, BTEC y y y   y y y   y   y   y y y   y   y   y   Workforce engagement accelerating culture change and contribution
Manufacturing Technicians / Middle Managers Degree and/or 10+ years experience   y   y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Increased skills sets and confidence to implement change
Manufacturing Leaders Degree MBA and/or 20+ years experience   y   y   y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Increased skills sets and confidence to invest in digital manufacturing
Lecturers Degree / Post Doc   y   y   y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Awareness of latest digital manufacturing to increase quality & relevance of training

Sustainable Commercial Model

A standard version of the Digital Productivity Factory will be FREE for all vocational students. There are 2 parallel strategies to ensure the Digital Productivity Factory is underpinned by a sustainable and scalable commercial model once UFI funding finishes:

  • offer customised solutions and premium services to larger businesses and vocational training institutes
  • charge Industry 4.0 solution providers a fee for relevant and value-adding product placement in VR platform and focused advertising to target clients. NB PRO and ENTERPRISE clients can switch advertising off.
Cloud Hosted On-Premise Gamer Consoles Mobile Gamer Consoles Power Wall Basic Factory Layouts Library of Factory Layouts Customisable Factory Layouts Basic Scenarios Advanced Scenarios Single Player Multi-Player Peer-to-peer Case Studies Hide Advertising
STANDARD Vocational students direct, tech colleges, universities, manufacturing SMEs FREE Y   Y Y   Y     Y   Y      
PRO Tech colleges, universities, manufacturing SMEs From £100 to £250 per month Y   Y Y Y Y Y   Y   Y Y Y Y
ENTERPRISE Medium & Large Manufacturing Enterprises £250+ per month Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
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